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New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings Point Spread - Pick

New Orleans Saints (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
Week 1 NFL
Date/Time: Monday Night Football, September 11, 2017 at 7:10PM EST
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: NO +3.5/MIN -3.5
Over/Under Total: 48

The New Orleans Saints come to U.S. Bank Stadium to face the Minnesota Vikings in week one on Monday Night Football. This will be the first of two MNF games in the opening week of the NFL season. Both teams are in the mindset of making it to the playoffs and we'll see who can take step one in that direction in week one. The Saints had another 7-9 season and are in win now-mode after a busy offseason. The Vikings ended up at 8-8 last season after a 5-0 start and look for an improved offense to lead to better results and a more-complete 2017 season.

Things looked dire for the Vikes when they lost their quarterback Teddy Bridgewater before the start of last season. A 13th-hour move to get Sam Bradford smelled of desperation, but it is hard to argue with the results. Bradford set an NFL season record with a 71.6% completion rate. Granted, a lot of that was short-range passing. They're hoping to get more vertical in 2017. The offense got a few good tackles in free agency in Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff, while getting a center in the draft in Pat Elfein and nice prospect at running back in Dalvin Cook. They also got Latavius Murray, the running back from Oakland.

No team ran the ball worse than the Vikings in 2016. Even if neither Cook nor Murray turns out to be superstars, they almost have to be an upgrade. It would be nice if WR Laquon Treadwell could start to deliver after being hurt in his 2016 rookie season. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are a nice 1-2 punch aerially. Maybe someone else can step up and make an imprint. Look for this offense to at least do a better job in keeping their defense off the field.

The double-A gap look, a 4-3 base with abundant sub packages lets playmakers shine and puts the heat on opposing defenses. There is a lot of muscle up front for the Vikes, but Sharif Floyd missed a lot of time last season and will again this season, while they got Green Bay's Datone Jones, who is on IR. It makes you wonder about Minnesota's run-defense. Linval Joseph should see a lot of time and at the ends are Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, who had 12.5 sacks last season. Some more consistency from Anthony Barr would make him and former UCLA running-mate Eric Kendricks a nice 1-2 punch at linebacker. Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes are nice corners, with safeties Harrison Smith and Andrew Zendejo. Vet Terrence Newman is also in the mix. And again, a better offense can only help with a Vikings defense that was run ragged in 2016.

The Saints still have one of the more-potent aerial quarterbacks in the business with Drew Brees. But 7-9 will not do for him or longtime head coach Sean Payton. Nothing short of a breakthrough in '17 will be tolerated. Brees is precise with Payton's offense and can still catch defenses off-guard when he quickly delivers passes to receivers. Michael Thomas showed he can be special as a pass-catcher in his rookie season. They add Ted Ginn, Jr., who still has ample speed and could make an impact in this offense. Willie Snead has really good chemistry with Brees and his suspension is costly. TE Coby Fleener can spring forth with a big showing every now and again.

When thinking of the Saints at their best, the run-game was on-point. Mark Ingram is a versatile package at running back and the addition of Adrian Peterson, who faces his old team here, could give the Saints a dynamic backfield. The acquisition of G Larry Warford will help the run, as will getting RT Zach Strief. Left guard Andrus Peat is in the mix still and first-round pick Ryan Ramczyk could be useful. But not having LT Terron Armstead until at least October hurts and we'll see if Bryce Harris or someone else can fill the void.

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The defense has been a handicap of the Saints during this three-year run of 7-9 seasons. They improved under first-year coordinator Dennis Allen, but they need more. They really need to be more of an impactful group. The addition of Alex Okafor helps the front and along with Cameron Jordan and Sheldon Rankins, they should be a pretty good group. The linebacking corps got a lot of offseason attention, with the additions of Manti Te'o, AJ Klein, and Alex Anzalone. The secondary has a chance to be one of the Saints' best in recent memory. At safety, Vonn Bell should get better in his second season and Kenny Vaccaro has turned into a force at strong safety. PJ Williams and rookie Marshon Lattimore should be good at corner. Adding depth in the secondary is Sterling Moore and Rafael Bush. It's potentially a very good group.

The Saints have a lot of hope. Whether it will all congeal immediately is unknown, but their success may very well come down to how healthy they can remain. For the Vikings, the offense looks better with more playmaking ability and an improved line, which could really help it all come together. Look for Zimmer to unleash the full menace of the formidable Vikings defense this season and that could be trouble for opponents. I see this a close game that could fall either way and something is telling me it's going to be an improved Saints team getting the cover on MNF.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the New Orleans Saints plus 3.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Saints vs. Vikings game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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